This article contains a brief Vladimir Lenin timeline, highlighting some of the key events in Lenin’s life, and his rise to leadership of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union that followed.
22 April 1870 – Lenin is born
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born on 22 April 1870 in the small town of Simbirsk, Russia to a middle class family, and his father became a Russian nobleman. His father, Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov was an educational official, and his mother, Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova, was a teacher.
20 May 1877 – Lenin’s brother is executed
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Lenin’s brother, Aleksander Ulyanov, was executed after attempting to assassinate Tsar Alexander III. His death was probably a factor in the development of the young Lenin’s political views.
7 December 1896 – Lenin arrested and exiled to Siberia
Lenin was arrested on 7 December 1896 for plotting against the Tsar. After over a year in a St Petersburg jail, he was exiled to Siberia. While in exile, Lenin got married (to Nadezhda Krupskaya) and wrote his first book – The Development of Capitalism in Russia. His exile ended in 1900, and Lenin left Russia for Western Europe.
November 1905 – Lenin returns to Russia
Lenin returned to Russia amid the chaos of the 1905 Russian Revolution. During his time in Russia, he was elected to the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party leadership but, when it became clear in 1907 that there was no immediate chance of revolution, left Russia again for exile in Europe.
16 April 1917 – Lenin returns to Russia (again)
Two months after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, Lenin is finally able to return to Russia. On his train journey to Russia, he had written the April Thesis, arguing that Bolsheviks should not be satisfied with the February 1917 revolution, and should agitate for a proper socialist revolution.
6-8 November 1917 – Lenin leads second Russian Revolution
After consolidating his, and the Bolsheviks’ position, Lenin leads the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government, and the battle for the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. Over the following days and weeks, he consolidates the Bolshevik Party’s initial hold on power, and then over the following years, secures the revolution in the Russian Civil War.
21 March 1921 – New Economic Policy
After the hardship of civil war, the Russian economy was stagnating. On 21 March 1921, Lenin signed a decree introducing the New Economic Policy which, in a step back from the principles of the revolution, allowed small businesses to once again operate in the Soviet Union, and to seek to profit from their work.
26 May 1922 – Lenin suffers his first stroke
Lenin suffered the first of his three strokes on 26 May 1922. The stroke prevented him from speaking for several weeks, and he was not able to return fully to work until August that year. Four months later, in December 1922, a second stroke forced him to effectively retire from politics, and his third stroke, in March 1923, left him mute and confined to his bed.
21 January 1924 – Lenin death
After almost a year bedridden, Lenin died of a heart attack on 21 January 1924. After a brief power struggle, Stalin replaced him as the Soviet Union’s leader. Within days of his death, the city of Petrograd (previously known as St Petersburg) was renamed Leningrad to honour the Soviet Union’s first leader. Lenin’s body was preserved by being embalmed and, since 27 January 1924, has been on display at the Lenin Mausoleum, just outside the Kremlin walls in Red Square, Moscow.